TVNZ reports that Ratana elders are unhappy with Labour over its list MP rankings for the election:
Labour list insults Ratana Church
The Labour Party’s list is under fire again, this time from Maori.
A senior official within the influential Ratana Church is calling for its members to abandon Labour in response to the lowly ranking of it’s [sic] candidates.
Senior Ratana minister Kereama Pene has launched a stinging Facebook campaign against what he sees as Labour’s list insult. He said on the social networking site: “Every Ratana should show their total disgust and abandon Labour forever.” “I think that we have to wake up and we have to realise the situation we’re in with Labour. The Labour and Ratana alliance probably died long ago, but our faith kept us in there,” the minister told ONE News. …
It’s understood that some in the highest levels of the church are disappointed.
Ratana sanctioned Soraya Peke-Mason has contemplated resigning over her lowly 55th ranking on the Labour list. However, she has decided to stay but said Labour has to stop taking Ratana and it’s 60,000 followers for granted.
This is bad news for Labour of course, which has always stressed its long and effective relationship with the Ratana Church. Phil Goff should be putting relationships with the Church back on the front burner right now. Even though their influence in the Maori electorates is obviously declining, the Ratana Church are old friends, and Labour cannot afford to let their relationship wither.
If Church members follow Pene’s advice to abandon Labour, then it seems likely that Hone Harawira’s new party (or perhaps the Greens) would be the beneficiary. I certainly can’t see long term Ratana supporters flocking to National or the abundantly right wing Maori Party.
And if there is any silver lining in this cloud for Labour, perhaps it is this. In an odd way it reinforces the fact that Labour is a broad church. A party of the people, of ordinary people from all walks of life. The list has to reflect the interests of the economically disadvantaged, of the powerful but shadowy union lobbies (!), of the gaggle of gays, of the straight shootin’ West coasters, of the ivory tower academics and teachers, of the Ratana Church Maori and other Maori whatever their beliefs, of everyone left behind or disgusted by National’s pandering to the wealthy and inability to face the future. That’s why there is so much interest in, and very active criticism of Labour’s list. Because so many people, from so many diverse backgrounds, care.
I doubt that there will be similar interest in National’s list. That party represents the interests not of people, but of money. It’s a much simpler task.